The results of the long-awaited environmental study of 78-16 Cooper Ave. in Glendale, the site of a proposed 125-family homeless shelter, have been released by the Department of Homeless Services.
To the chagrin of many shelter opponents, the project is moving forward as planned.
The land the former factory sits on has been deemed suitable for the planned shelter by AECOM USA, the independent assessment company commissioned by DHS to survey the land, and the city informed Community Board 5 and area elected officials in a letter dated July 1 that it “will proceed” with the controversial plan.
“We ask that you review the report and respond with any concerns on or before Friday, July 11,” the letter, signed by DHS Commissioner Gilbert Taylor, reads. “After this date, we will proceed with the next stage of contract negotiations for 125 families with children at this facility.”
According to the study, an environmental site assessment was performed on the plot of land on Sept. 30, 2013.
An underground fuel storage tank, last tested in 1995, with an expired registration was observed and that, combined with the proposed shelter’s proximity to Independent Chemical Co. right next door, a subsurface investigation was ordered.
When the study was performed the next month, eight soil samples taken from 20 feet below the surface showed no danger.
“The soil sample results were compared to New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Unrestricted Use Soil Cleanup Objectives and none of the compounds found in the soil were found to be above NYSDEC’s Unrestricted Use SCO’s,” the report said. “No additional remedial investigation or actions are recommended at the project site.”
The report also touched on the impact the shelter would have on area schools.
It estimates that 310 of the approximately 500 shelter residents would be 18 or younger, including an estimated 50 high schoolers and 160 middle and elementary school-aged children, but the utilization rate of area schools would only increase by 1.5 percent.
The other 100 expected children will be too young to attend school.
The shelter, if constructed, will be operated by Samaritan Village, the same Briarwood-based human services agency running the also-controversial homeless facility at the old Pan American Hotel in Elmhurst.
Community Board 5 and numerous elected officials have spoken strongly in opposition to the Glendale plan over the last year.
In May, over two dozen residents spoke of their concerns over the shelter at a public meeting, attended by hundreds more, as well as Samaritan Village Executive Vice President Doug Apple and DHS Assistant Commissioner of Government and Human Relations Lisa Black.
The subject has come up at every community board meeting since the middle of last year, and CB 5 District Manager Gary Giordano and Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Glendale) have often questioned the toxicity of the building, where airplane parts used to be made.
Crowley expressed her displeasure regarding the findings in a statement last Thursday.
“Several years ago — before talks of any DHS proposal — the School Construction Authority denied my request to convert 78-16 Cooper Ave. into a high school,” Crowley said. “District 24 is the most overcrowded district in the entire city, and our community continues to suffer from the lack of additional classrooms. My question now is simple: If the City did not find this site suitable for a school, how can it be suitable for a shelter that will house families year round?”